Sometimes, when you are feeling down, a nice pick-me-up like an ice cream Sunday or glass of wine can be oh-so satisfying. While I, at times, partake in these little indulgences, I also very much enjoy listening to comedic audiobooks for some much-needed amusement. Lately, I have been listening to books that deal with heavy topics including slavery, segregation, and prejudice in the United States. After reading Twelve Years a Slave (review here), Negroland (review here), and White Like Her (review here), I’m ready to transition back into some lighter reading. This sentiment is exactly how I found myself enjoying Heartburn by Nora Ephron.
While I found this autobiographical novel to be a remedy for my hard feelings, truth be told, this book deals with a lot of heavy topics of its own. We meet the protagonist, Rachel, in, perhaps, the lowest point of her life. Without any introduction, she informs the reader that she is 38-years old, seven-months pregnant, and her second husband is cheating on her. Yikes! Although the drama in the book centers around this horrible, and frankly absurd situation, Ephron injects humor into every page to add levity to this catastrophe.
While the book is a work of humor (and mostly fiction), it also touches on some pretty important topics including fidelity and friendships. For example, how much is it appropriate for your friends to meddle in your relationship? If you know that your friend is being cheated on, but you are also friends with your friend’s cheating partner, who should you confront about the situation? One moment that hit me hard was when Rachel asks her friend for advice on what to do, knowing that her husband is a cheater. Long story short, the friend advises that our protagonist let her partner’s little affair play out. In essence, she said, let him have his affair, get bored with it, and then come crawling back. Yep, that’s right, if a woman’s husband is cheating on her and she wants to save the relationship, she should just wait until her husband is through with his affair. What?? While I (and the protagonist) are dumbstruck by the advice, the friend also experienced being cheated on. For her, waiting out the affair, although extremely hard and emotionally painful, was worth it to save her relationship. This advice made me (gag! and) ask myself, how much rubbish should one be expected to tolerate in a long-term relationship and at what cost? “Tolerate,” “endure,” “accept”— I feel like this is the sort of advice only women receive….
The truth in this autobiographical novel is that Ephron really was pregnant and on her second marriage when she found out about her husband’s affair. I simply cannot imagine the mix of anger, sadness, betrayal, and stress that Ephron felt as she endured this reality. However, the storyteller that Ephron was, she did not dwell too long on the tragedy that was her marriage in these pages and rather weaved this series of unfortunate events into a delightful little story.
Heartburn is a quick read. If you are searching for a funny tales about relationship drama, do add this title to your reading list.